Category Archives: journey logs

the joys of motoring #26

Jennifer Jaguar sailed through her MoT test today. Lately she has been looked after by a family business down in Portsmouth where I’m working a lot, and it’s nice to know that all the TLC has been paying off. The old girl went through the 100,000 miles barrier last month, although I’ve only contributed a little under half that.


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Motorsportmania blog goes live this weekend!

Over this weekend I will be moving my motoring and motor sport (auto racing) posts over onto a new blog, Motorsport Mania here on WordPress. Motorsport Mania

This will allow those who are following my motoring mutterings to do so without having all of the other stuff that apears on John’s Jottings cluttering up their message boxes.

The new blog will feature all of my car related stuff from this weekend onwards and I’ll have a look at building a page of links back to the various motor sport and driving blog entries from the JJ site.

So that will be the place to go for my thoughts on current matters in F1, NASCAR, Indy and other types of racing and, expecially as I’m doing some other writing at present (Truck & Driver took an article from me last week for future publication for example), I’ll mention these as and when they come up.

Thanks to my followers, and I look forward to your comments on the the new blog as it gets under way.

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what price 15 feet of tarmac?

Pretty much every Saturday morning it is my pleasure to treat the Wokingham Wonder to a run out so that I can buy her a late breakfast and give her the chance to spend her pension.

We don’t go quite as far afield as we used to, but we have a selection of decent city or town centres all no more than 45 to 50 miles from home and that provide a nice run through the Cotswolds, the Mendips or over the Marlborough Downs. So a nice relaxed drive will see us parking up at our destination of choice about an hour after I’ve fired up Jennifer Jaguar on the driveway at home.

Now I say a nice relaxed drive, and that is what I aim at. On the dual carriageway I can lock down cruise control at 70 mph (indicated, actually about 67.5) and drive for much of the distance with the occasional touch  of the thumb on the Resume button to get us out and back into the cruise.

But every Saturday for the last 5 weeks we’ve passed at least one accident site on the way home (one black Saturday there were three in the space of 20 miles). Flashing lights, clumps of people standing round with mobile phones pressed to their ears, emergency services in attendance and bits of car and assorted fluids to avoid.

Amongst the common denominators are that these accidents have all been at either where a dual carriageway narrows to single, or at an exit or entrance slip road (or ramp for my US readers) and that they have all been the result of someone desperate to shove their way in or out of the traffic.

So what price are these people paying for that extra 15 feet of tarmac that they were so desperate to occupy? Not only has someone spoiled their own day out they have ruined someone else’s and, if the traffic tailback gets heavy, inconvenienced many others. And then there are longer term consequences for all parties in terms of loss of transport, cost and so on (as well as for all of us in the rising cost of our insurance cover).

Does it really matter that much to overtake just one more car before the exit? Can you not just slow and lose a couple of seconds to make sure that you join the traffic flow safely?

Trading a bit of paint and a bit of panel damage seems to me to be a pretty stupid value to put on a short piece of highway, but in one accident site we passed yesterday someone was so desperate for a short stretch of Mr McAdam’s finest that they traded their life.

So I’ll ask again; what price 15 feet of tarmac?

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nice to be back in Scotland #li

I like Scotland. My first visit was to Galloway on holiday with the family and I was able to trace some of the roots of Richard Hannay’s adventures in the first half of the 39 Steps ad well as tracking down some of the old Port Road.

My first flight was to Aberdeen, returning a couple of days later from Edinburgh and I went on to shuttle back and forth to Edinburgh or Glasgow (and Belfast, but that’s another story) so often I was on first name terms with many of the cabin crew.

It was during all these trips that the Wonder of Wokingham and I got together in Edinburgh, so no wonder I have many fond memories.

This time we (a colleague and I) have had to drive up instead of the planned flight, but we have had an easy run up the M40/M42/M6 toll/M6 etc and are in place for our round of meeting tomorrow. Aplogies to followers of my driving logs, but I forgot about keeping one of our run up. I’ll try and remember to log the drive back though.

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Driving Logs #2

Not much of a trip this time, just a run of less than 70 miles over to Milton Keynes and back, but I felt it was worth recording as it represents a trip I have done regularly for 25 years (at least to the MK area if not this specific address). It is also, for part of the run, one leg of a longer journey to and from the North.

As an aside, I got my route planner software to propose a route. It suggested the fastest way was to go down the M4 to the M25, round to the M1 and up there to MK. That trip was estimated at 111.1 miles and taking 99 minutes, but the software would have not known about the several sets of 50 mph restrictions on that route, let alone the likely congestion. The route I used is virtually a straight line on the map, and the distance and timing make an interesting comparison.

My route across country involves a mixture of rural and urban roads, some 2 lane single carriageway with speed limits between 30 and 60 mph and others 4 lane dual carriageway. The Oxford Western by-pass still has a 40 mph restriction around the bridge works at Peartree, but that was my only issue with road works. I chose to drive straight through Bicester both ways rather than use the ring road. Rush hour traffic was worse on the way out, especially towards the Oxford end of the A420 and around Buckingham.

Note that the stop at the Kingston Centre retail park added 1.2 miles to the journey – big places these.

Way Point Time Elapsed Distance Speed MPH
Home (depart) 719 0.0
A420 (join) 724 5 2.6 31.20
A34 (join) 800 41 27.6 40.39
M40 (cross) 810 51 36.6 43.06
Finmere 825 66 46.3 42.09
A421/422 Buckingham 836 77 51.0 39.74
Watling Steet (cross) 852 93 61.1 39.42
Kingston Centre (stop) 901 102 64.6 38.00
Kingston Centre (depart) 912 113 64.6
Magna Park (arrive) 917 118 66.9 34.02
Net driving time 107 66.9 37.51
Way Point Time Elapsed Distance Speed MPH
Magna Park (depart) 1600 0.0
Watling Steet (cross) 1609 9 4.6 30.67
A421/422 Buckingham 1621 21 14.6 41.71
Finmere 1628 28 19.2 41.14
M40 (cross) 1646 46 29.0 37.83
A420 (join) 1656 56 38.4 41.14
A419 (cross) 1729 89 63.1 42.54
Home (arrive) 1734 94 65.7 41.94

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driving logs #1

This is the first of my driving logs. I used to keep regular logs of my trips my road, rail and air, but got to the point in my business life that I was just doing so many journeys I couldn’t keep up. However, I’ve had to keep one form of log for my back to the floor driving and have just re-read a book from my personal collection that covers a number of road trip logs, both of which have inspired me to start again.

The basic principles of the logs are that the time is taken from the dashboard clock as I put the car in gear to start, as I join, or cross, each new road and as I apply the parking brake at each stop. I carry a voice activated recorder slung round my neck for recording random thoughts, so the waypoints are recorded using that and I do not include the odometer reading as it is too much of a distraction to note that each time. Mileage is taken from Autoroute 2002 instead. Unless otherwise noted, journeys are in my 2003 Jaguar S Type 3.0 SE (V6 petrol)

This first one is on a Friday morning in February 2010 and I’m up early for a trip from Swindon out to Bishops Stortford on the Essex/Herts border. It should take just over 2 hours, but allowing 3 for road works and traffic. Last time I did it on a Friday it took 5 hours to get home. This time we are starting the meeting earlier, so I’m hoping for an earlier finish and the chance to get on the M25 and M4 before they get too busy.

My log for this trip shows that, even with the 8 minutes stop at Birchanger services (why name them after an obscure, if local, village when they are just as close to Bishops Stortford and barely off the end of the runway at Stanstead?) the outbound run was quicker than the non stop return. The latter featured a number of undesirable stops on the M25 and M4 and both journeys were slowed by 5 sets of 50mph restrictions, two of which were lengthy.

Point Time Elapsed Distance Speed MPH
Home 600 0
M4 607 7 4 34.29
M25 704 64 63.2 59.25
M1 724 84 82.6 59.00
M11 748 108 106.5 59.17
Exit M11 800 120 120.4 60.20
Birchanger Services Stop 802 122 0.00
Birchanger Services Start 810 130 0.00
Bishops Stortford 817 137 122.4 53.61
Point Time Elapsed Distance Speed MPH
Bishops Stortford 1451 0
M11 1458 7 2.7 23.14
M25 1511 20 16.9 50.70
M1 1532 41 40.2 58.83
M4 1608 77 60.6 47.22
Exit M4 1713 142 119.6 50.54
Home 1717 146 122.2 50.22

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